Atherton Police Negotiations – Status is right here
Original post made by Wow on Apr 11, 2013
April 4, 2013
Dear Atherton Resident,
I am writing to you as the President of the Atherton Police Officers Association (APOA) to call your attention to some important decisions before your Town Council. These decisions may change the way the Town provides your safety and security services. Ultimately, the Council's choices may lead to the outsourcing of the Atherton Police Department to another local agency.
The Police Department is experiencing a staffing crisis. Only 3 of the allotted 5 Sergeant positions are filled. The Town has repeatedly failed to attract qualified candidates to fill open Police Officer positions. Several of our Officers are unable to adequately perform patrol duties due to illness or injury.
Many shifts are being run without a Sergeant and often there are only 2 Officers in the field. This does not allow us to safely provide the services you desire.
This situation will deteriorate if the Town is unable to attract and retain candidates with the proper background, skills, and abilities. The Town must be willing to compensate fairly if it hopes to maintain its Police force.
* Parcel Tax
The Town has no retail businesses providing sales tax income. It relies on property taxes for the majority of its income. Following the implementation of Proposition 13, the Town supplemented this revenue with a Parcel Tax, which expires every 4 years and requires a 2/3 majority for passage.
The Council must soon make a decision about the Parcel Tax. The current Parcel Tax measure expires in July 2014. If it is not renewed, the Town will simply not be able to afford its Police Department.
The Parcel Tax has been $750 per typical parcel and the rate has not been increased in decades. In September 1999, the Atherton Police Department had 31 members. Today the Atherton Police Department has 21 authorized positions, some of which are not filled. Shrinking the organization, not increasing revenue, has accommodated the growth in expenses
Without an increase in the Parcel Tax the Town has seen a shrinking dollar to provide the services the Parcel Tax is supposed to accommodate. Could this be why we have a shrinking Police Department?
* Sworn Police Officer and Dispatcher Contract Negotiations
The APOA has a contract with the Town, called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The current MOU will expire September 30, 2013. The Town Council has tipped its hand on several occasions in public forums that they will mandate a series of reductions in salaries, pension, and medical benefits.
If the reductions imposed upon the Police Chief and Lieutenant earlier this year is any indication, these cuts will be severe. In fact, if the cuts are similar in scope, many Officers, Sergeants and Dispatchers will find they are unable to
￼provide for their families. As much as they enjoy working in this town, they may have no choice but to seek other employment opportunities.
In the face of budget cutbacks, other neighboring communities went for years without hiring new Officers. They are now hiring again. They are competing for officers that would consider leaving their agencies saving them a considerable training investment. If Atherton does not compensate at market levels, they will not only be unable to attract officers, they will lose their Officers, Sergeants and Dispatchers to these other agencies.
This has happened before. From 1998 through 2004, there were a series of police layoffs and resignations. They came in the midst of two failed Parcel Tax measures, staff reorganizations and layoffs. The Town reduced compensation to a level where Atherton became non-competitive. Many officers and dispatchers went to work for neighboring jurisdictions. It took several years to rebuild the Police Department.
The San Jose Police Department provides insight into what could await Atherton. SJPD has lost fully a third of their trained and experienced officers. They left SJPD because of severe reductions in compensation and benefits. San Jose Police Department cannot train and replace officers quickly enough, resuhing in a department which is seriously understaffed. Crime has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels.
The Council will need to decide if it will continue to compensate at existing competitive levels or reduce salary and benefits.
* How You Can Help
The Atherton Police Department has been in existence since the founding of the town in 1923. The APOA wants the APD to be one of the best Police Departments on the Peninsula. We are proud to work here and want to continue the tradition of high-quality service. We believe Athertonians share our vision.
These upcoming decisions are now before the Council. It is very important you express your views to the Council. For your convenience, we have enclosed an addressed response card. Please use this card to send your opinion to Mayor Lewis and the rest of your Town Council. Please let them know you support us. Thank you.
on Apr 11, 2013 at 6:16 pm
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
There is NO way the parcel tax will either be extended or increased if the council does not bring the taxpayers who will pay the bill into the discussions on the forthcoming negotiations and the resultant proposed labor agreement.
From: PETER CARPENTER
Subject: A formal request regarding police contract negotiations - keeping the taxpayers informed
Date: April 11, 2013 5:06:00 PM PDT
Dear Town Council,
This is a formal request that the Town not begin labor negotiations until there has been a public discussion of the " set of objectives for the discussions" that the council has decided in secret and that any proposed agreement resulting from such labor negotiations be made public at least 15 days before that proposed agreement is voted on by the council.
The taxpayers will be required to bear the cost of any proposed agreement and they should be given the opportunity to give you their input BEFORE negotiations begin and BEFORE a proposed agreement is voted on by the council. The labor negotiators will clearly do the same for their membership. Nothing in this request suggests that the negotiations themselves be open to public scrutiny.
on Apr 11, 2013 at 8:53 pm
" The Town has repeatedly failed to attract qualified candidates to fill open Police Officer positions."
Could it be because most police PROFESSIONALS aren't interested in being glorified security guards? Maybe I'm wrong, but all the real cops I know and have worked with wouldn't work in Atherton to save their souls. There's your problem attracting qualified officers - no one worth a damn wants to be a security guard, they want to be police officers. REAL police officers.
"Many shifts are being run without a Sergeant and often there are only 2 Officers in the field. This does not allow us to safely provide the services you desire."
What services? Picking up your newspapers? Bringing in your mail? Bringing you your key when you lock yourself out of your house? Responding to false alarms?
"This situation will deteriorate if the Town is unable to attract and retain candidates with the proper background, skills, and abilities. "
You mean candidates that wish to be glorified security guards? That shouldn't really be a high bar, should it?
" In fact, if the cuts are similar in scope, many Officers, Sergeants and Dispatchers will find they are unable to
As much as they enjoy working in this town, they may have no choice but to seek other employment opportunities."
Where are they going to find other opportunities to work as glorified security guards at police officer salaries?
"The San Jose Police Department provides insight into what could await Atherton. SJPD has lost fully a third of their trained and experienced officers. They left SJPD because of severe reductions in compensation and benefits."
Sorry, SJPD lost those officers BECAUSE THEY LAID THEM OFF! SJPD wouldn't hire any of the existing security guards from Atherton. They'd have to send them through the police academy all over again.
"The APOA wants the APD to be one of the best Police Departments on the Peninsula."
Then you should refuse to be glorified security guards and start acting like REAL police officers. No more picking up mail. No more watering lawns. No more of the other nonsense BS the town is asking its police officers to do. If you truly want to be PROFESSIONAL POLICE OFFICERS. START ACTING LIKE IT! There isn't a San Jose cop I know that would even consider working in Atherton no matter what the pay. They are PROFESSIONAL Police officers and they do a professional police officer's job.
"These upcoming decisions are now before the Council. It is very important you express your views to the Council."
Yes folks, think long and hard. Is your ability to drive DUI in your town and get away with it really worth the additional 2 million dollars that you don't have to spend if you contract with the SMCSD like your neighbors in Woodside and Portola Valley? They seem quite happy with the service they are provided.
on Apr 12, 2013 at 8:33 am
Peter taxpayers were already part of the discussion. It's called the election that took place last November. Two candidates ran on a platform of respecting the will of Atherton residents to keep the police department, and to end the practice of Kathy Mckeithan to disrespect and destroy the morale of these Officers. The residents decided not to shortsightedly look at costs in keeping the police department.
As the letter from Mr. Mattes pointed out, Officers will leave if they are not compensated competitively. I ignore what Menlo Voter says...he obviously couldn't make it as a cop and has axes to grind, but we all know San Jose isn't Atherton.
Restoring competitive compensation is just a first step in trying to repair the many years of damage caused by Kathy Mckeithan. For example, a decision was made by a town manager who just stayed a few months to bring in an outside chief, something totally inappropriate for Atherton in my view. If there are no internal promotion opportunities, Officers are going to look at the here and now, which is current salary and benefits. I say promote an internal candidate to chief. There are several highly qualified ones.
It's going to wind up costing this town tons more money to rehire qualified Officers when the ones we have leave because of compensation, or to reconstitute the police department when outsourcing plans fail.
If you want something, you have to pay for it.